As Summer comes to an end Tampa’s Stay & Play program sees record breaking numbers

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In June of 2015, Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced two significant Parks initiatives to help keep kids safe throughout the summer by extending hours of parks facilities and providing free recreation cards (“Rec Cards”). Since then Stay & Play has more than doubled its attendance and the rec cards have become increasingly more popular.

“Stay & Play’s success proves that with innovative initiatives, local governments can truly make a difference, ” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn.  “Tampa’s youth deserve a safe place surrounded by mentors and coaches who care about their wellbeing. There are children that are alive today because Stay and Play gave them a reason to not be on the street and in harm’s way. Whether it’s through the Stay & Play initiative, after school programs, or Summer camps our Parks & Recreation staff are transformative in the lives of so many.”  

"With continuous input from the teens, we have enhanced our program by offering a variety of activities such as culinary arts, musical expression, dance, athletic leagues, field trips, additional pool openings, community partners, guest speakers and professional athlete participation. Thanks to donations form the Florida Beverage Association and Friends of Tampa Recreation Inc., we have added healthier meal options to the program this summer.  With the advanced planning, healthy meals at no cost and marketing on social media, we were able to increase attendance by 19%.  Keeping Tampa's teens active and safe is paramount for our community, and we look forward to the program’s ongoing success." said Recreation Manager John Allen.

The original goal of ‘Stay & Play’ was to help curb the rising tide of violence as summer started in 2015. We gave kids a choice to be a part of a safe, productive, and fun environment, and it was an overwhelming success. 

“We at Tampa Parks and Recreation are very pleased to witness the participation in the Stay and Play program in the City. I think it demonstrates the value of the program the Mayor and the City of Tampa provides our youth!” said Parks and Recreation Director Paul Dial

From May 25, 2018 to August 9, 2018, 38,542 kids participated in the City of Tampa’s “Stay & Play” programming at fourteen different city facilities, and 1,906 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 years old signed up for free “Rec Cards.”

The “Rec Cards” are good for one year and allow for access into facilities and programming, including free After School programs during the school year.

These numbers are in addition to the 2,667 kids who attended the City’s traditional summer camps and the 3,624 who attended the specialty camps.  

The Parks and Recreation Department provided a total of 822 kids with scholarships totaling over $49,120.

Keeping Our Kids Safe

City of Tampa Police and Parks and Recreation Security worked together throughout the summer to keep all participating youth safe. There were no incidents at any of the nine participating facilities.

Extended Hours Continue This Fall

Building off the summer success, the following recreation centers will be open later hours.  Please call for details.

  • Copeland Park Community      Center, 11001 North 15th Street (975-2743)
  • Dr. Martin Luther King      Jr. Community Center, 2200 North Oregon Avenue (259-1667)
  • Jackson Heights      Community Center, 3310 East Lake Avenue (242-5346)
  • Springhill Community      Center, 1000 East Eskimo Avenue (274-3314)

Free “Rec Cards” will continue.

Activities will be in a semi-structured environment and vary by location. Those activities will range from sporting activities like basketball to arts and guest speakers.

The anticipated cost for the extension of school-year hours is approximately $100,000.